On the 21st of June, the UniSA node of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology (CBNS) held the inaugural symposium on bioengineered cancer models #ISBCM2019. The Symposium provided a forum for discussing recent advances in the design of bioengineered in vitro cancer models and their implementation in the evaluation of cancer immunotherapy and radiotherapy approaches. The event was also aimed at developing collaborations between South Australian Scientists and Cherry Biotech, a French biotechnology company focused on developing technologies underpinning the emerging concept of organs-on-chip models. This event was funded by CBNS as well as by a Brittany-South Australian grant from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment of the South Australian Government.
Dr Thomas Guerinier and Dr Pierre Gaudriault, respectively COO and deputy CEO of Cherry Biotech, travelled to Adelaide to attend the symposium and conduct a week of scientific visits and discussions. Cherry Biotech is a 5-year-old-spin-off from another French company specialised in microfluidic hardware, Elvesys. They have developed the fastest temperature controller in the world (ultra-fast temperature shifts while live-imaging cells), a cell culture medium perfusion system for all sorts of cell culture-ware (from Petri dish to microfluidic chips) and the CubiX for long-term culture of human tissues and biopsies, 3D cell models or organ-on-a-chip models. Cherry Biotech is taking an active role in what is refer to as the NBIC (Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technologies and Cognitive Sciences) “revolution” in Europe and in particular in the French ‘Microfluidic Valley’.
After the official opening of the symposium, Ms Thomasi from the Office of the French Strategy, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Government of South Australia gave an introduction about the strategic French – South Australia collaboration. The day continued with talks showcasing the utility of bioengineered models for cancer therapy including organs-on-chip models, patient-derived explant models and 3D bioprinted models. Presenters included Dr Amir Aref (Harvard University), Professor Wayne Tilley (University of Adelaide), Associate Professor Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani (UTS), Dr Lakmali Attapatu (CBNS, UNSW) and Dr Michelle Maritz (CBNS, UniSA). New imaging and immunotherapy and radiotherapy methods for cancer were also discussed by Dr Justin Coombs (Carina Biotech), Associate Professor Hien Le (RAH), Professor Eva Bezak (UniSA) and Dr Jonathan Cechetto (PerkinElmer). The symposium had a true French flavor: kouign aman (pastries from Brittany), croissant, baguette, cheese and macaroons were on the menu. Most importantly, the event was a real success: “we had some very good feedback and I think several collaborations will directly result from the event, which is a great outcome.” said CBNS CI Professor Benjamin Thierry.
Prior to the symposium and Cherry Biotech visit to Australia, CBNS/UniSA’s PhD student Ludivine Delon and ECR Dr Chih-Tsung Yang had the opportunity to visit Cherry Biotech in Rennes, France. They presented the research of the group in UniSA, under Professor Benjamin Thierry, and initiated several avenues for future collaborations. One of the most exciting outcomes of the Brittany and South Australia grant awarded to the UniSA CBNS node is the possibility for Ludivine to apply for a Marie Curie fellowship with Cherry Biotech. Her application will be submitted by September and could lead to a two year-project with Cherry Biotech on the development of the next generation of intestine-on-a-chip models.
Summary was written by Ludivine Delon